October 13, 2005 in Sports

S.I. asks court to void deal

Associated Press
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Price
(Full-size photo)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Time Inc. asked a judge to throw out its settlement and dismiss defamation claims of former Alabama football coach Mike Price over a Sports Illustrated article recounting his night of drunken partying at a Florida strip joint, court documents showed Wednesday.

In a motion filed in federal court, Time claimed Price and his lawyer, Steve Heninger, violated an agreement to make only limited public comments about the deal, reached last week to resolve Price’s $20 million defamation suit against the magazine, which Time publishes.

Heninger denied violating the settlement’s terms.

When asked by reporters about the development after practice Wednesday in El Paso, Texas, Price said, “I don’t know anything about it.”

U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith made no immediate ruling on the motion, filed late Tuesday, but he did grant Time’s request to seal court documents related to terms of the settlement.

In announcing the settlement on Monday, Time released a four-sentence statement saying the case was “amicably resolved” and that it continued to stand by the story, which Price claimed was false in key parts.

Afterward, Price held a news conference at Texas-El Paso, where he now coaches, and said he felt vindicated. In a written statement issued by UTEP, Price called the agreement a “great victory.”

Arguing that Price and Heninger violated the settlement by saying far more than was in the magazine’s brief statement, Time asked the court to dismiss Price’s suit – which would have the effect of throwing out the settlement – and to make the coach pay the company’s legal bills.

Heninger said his and Price’s comments did not violate the settlement.

“I’m filing a motion to enforce the agreement. We have never disclosed any terms of the agreement or anything outside the public record,” he said.

“We do consider that we won this case at every legal juncture. But we have not and will not disclose terms of the agreement,” Heninger said.

Price filed suit against Time claiming he was defamed and slandered by a Sports Illustrated story detailing his actions the night he visited a topless bar in Pensacola, Fla., in April 2003 while still head coach at Alabama.

Price has publicly acknowledged being heavily intoxicated, but denied allegations of sex with two women in his hotel room that the magazine reported. University of Alabama President Robert Witt fired Price a few days before the article was published.

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